I did spend an absolute shitload of time playing games in the last days, but also did some thinking about what 2016 meant for the game development industry in Romania. Make no mistake! 2016 was the best year for our local indie community in terms of growth, but not so much financial wise. Thus, expect a lot of “for the first time ever…”, but let’s get into details.

The year kicked-off on a high note with two major events:

First, there were big changes in RGDA’s management after my decision to step down as president. A new team came by, led by Catalin Butnariu as president. It was the time to shift the association’s focus from community development to business development and Catalin definitely had more expertise than me.

Second, one of the most anticipated Romanian indie title of 2016 was released: Move or Die. A game that was over 3 years in development, released on steam at the end of January generating overwhelming positive reviews from both critics and fans.

Spring followed up with three major events for the indie scene.

First, Carbon Incubator was announced. The first of its kind in Romania, it helps new and start-up companies to develop by providing services such as office space, mentorship or even direct funding of up to $ 50,000 per project. We needed this so much as an industry and I hope more and more devs will take advantage of this service.

Second, for the first time in Romania, developers had the chance to meet, greet, showcase and play their games together with fans at a major community event: East European Comic Con. A great experience for the 7 studios that showcased their games, as well as great experience for all the gamers who got to play, first hand, games developed in Romania.

Third, a local gamedev studio, Stuck in the Attick, managed a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their WIP project: Gibbous: A Cthulhu Adventure. It’s the second local studio to manage a successful campaign, following the 2015 campaign of Sand Sailor Studio for their game Black the Fall.

Summer brought up yet another major event for the indie studios (told you :D). Under RGDA’s umbrella, 4 local studios showcased their products at Gamescom, one of the world’s largest gaming convention. Few realise the importance of such events, and how great and healthy is for our industry to show to the world that we exist as a development community, that we create, we grow, we develop. Black the Fall was nominated for the Indie Award, not an easy feat.

And then we reach autumn. That time of the year when things go crazy, both events wise, as well as games released wise. But for us, as an industry, September marked a special moment. From my point, this is the biggest gain from 2016! Our very own international game development conference, Dev.Play. Two intense days of speeches, presentations, workshops, pitches and networking sessions with guests from major, big and small game studios. What a freaking treat marking RGDA’s 3rd year anniversary. Autumn ended with what I believe is a record number for our local industry of games released or greenlit by Steam. And I mean a lot. Not to mention that they range from mobile to console to PC to even VR. Damn guys, that’s the spirit!

The year ended up on a high note too with the announcement of the first Romanian training centre focused on game development courses, GameDev Academy. Announced for Q1 2017, the training centre will feature courses of various topics, covering game/level design, programming, 2D/3D art, as well as various workshops ranging from career development to idea pitching or early start-up development. Education baby! Raising the next gen game devs :))

Of course, there are a lot of other things I did not mentioned in particular, like the fact that we, again, have a gaming magazine, Nivelul 2 or the ever-going meetups RGDA is organising in the major cities to boost and grow local communities or the growing cover from the Romanian media (e.g. dedicated segment in I Like IT or various YouTubers showcasing local games) or the increasing number of small events around the country that help us promote this amazing industry and many many other things that don’t come in mind now…What a year!

Looking ahead, I can’t wait for 2017 and see how things progress. RGDA is hosting it’s annual meeting early next year, so we’ll see what’s in stored from them soon, as for our game developers, there are many anticipated titles whom we may get the chance to play like Black the Fall, Gibbous, Door Kickers 2, Grey Dawn, PositronX, Evil in Training, BrowlOut, Urban Strife and others…No pressure! 🙂

Next week I’ll share my thoughts on what we need to do better in 2017, so stay close! Meanwhile, an amazing 2017 to you all! Cheers for everything you’ve done in 2016 and cheers for being here and reading this!

Happy new Year everyone!

P.S. Currently playing FIFA, Civ VI, Doom 3, NBA 2k16, L.A. Noire 😛

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